Inside Your Head Episode 9

In my introduction, I explore a link I have realised exists between mindfulness, Transactional Analysis and Attachment Theory as ways to regulate our emotions. I also read out a wonderful thread I found on Twitter by Miranda @mir_and_a entitled How to Stop Out of Control Emotions. (Thanks for granting permission, Miranda!)

My interview is with the amazing Kari Olsen-Porthouse who creates choirs and singing groups. Kari has had an amazing career path, including working as a primary school teacher and working in an advertising agency. Now she runs her own business going into other companies and creating choirs amongst the staff members to raise morale. Following a bout of Covid, she was inspired to thank the NHS staff who had helped her and set about creating The Liberty Singers for ICU staff who have been at the front line during the pandemic, many of whom suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues as a result of the constant strain of the work they do.

As well as creating the choirs (which have members throughout the UK who meet regularly over Zoom), Kari has masterminded the recording of a single to raise money for charity: you can listen to Every Breath You Take (We Watch Over You) on Spotify and other music sources. kari is a truly inspiring person, and you can get in touch via her Twitter account @libertysinger73 .

Our Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation is all about exercising mindfulness in difficult conversations. We explore various ways in which you can learn to respond, rather than react to what the other person is saying, as well as learning to truly listen and pay attention to what is being said.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Transactional Analysis (Wikipedia)
I’m Ok, You’re Ok: A practical guide to Transactional Analysis by Thomas A. Harris M.D.

Attachment Theory (Wikipedia)
Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love by Dr Amire Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller

Mindfulness (Wikipedia)
Calm – you can try their meditations and mindfulness guides for free. There are a host of books on meditation and mindfulness out there, but I actually find listening to an app or audiobook easier. If you’re skeptical, start with my (free) Relaxation on the Beach Episode 1 available here, or a simple book like 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
You might also find sites like The Mindfulness Meditation Institute site useful.

Kari Olsen-Porthouse and the Liberty Singers

Every Breath You Take by the ICU Liberty Singers

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 8

In my introduction, I talk about the necessity of exercising caution when reading self-help books, especially those penned by big-name celebrities and overnight successes. Even if written with a genuine desire to help others, the author may look back on their path to success with confirmation bias (or survivorship bias) which can seriously skew the usefulness of the text. An important thing to realise about the apparent evidence of their route to success is that correlation does not equal causation (you can read some amusing examples here and a very good explanation in connection with data here). And of course, remember that if the advice in these books worked all the time, there would be a great many more millionaires and happy marriages than there actually are.

I also give a clue about the subject matter for the next episode’s introduction, inspired by a conversation with a friend.

The main interview is with Dr Roger Bretherton from the University of Lincoln with whom I discuss the growing field of Character Strength and Positive Psychology. Roger does most of his work addressing businesses and large organisations, helping them to get the best from their employees but also, critically, forcing the management to take responsibility for how their own strengths and attitudes affect the organisation and employee performance.

There is an online questionnaire that you might like to take (I did) at The VIA Institute on Character website – like me, you can just get the free report if you don’t fancy paying for a more in-depth version. But I think you might find the results fascinating, and it will certainly help you to get the most from my conversation with Roger.

We also talk about the differences between traditional psychology, and its approach which focuses on repairing damage, and the new and growing field of positive psychology, which aims to focus on the character strengths and positive aspects of the client/patient’s personality, enabling them to build greater resilience and to gain greater overall satisfaction from life.

Our conversation also touches briefly on different approaches to spirituality and even imposter syndrome! I really enjoyed this conversation with Roger and I think you will find him a stimulating guest to listen to.

In the Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation, we work on forgiveness towards others for their failings and transgressions that have hurt us, and we also seek forgiveness for ourselves for any hurt we may have caused others, however inadvertently. Be aware that it might be a good idea to think about less difficult situations to begin with, working up to tackling issues with more difficult or important people in your life after trying this a couple of times.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Confirmation bias
Survivorship bias
Mental Floss: 10 Times Correlation Was Not Causation
Towards Data Science: 4 Reasons Why Correlation Does NOT Imply Causation

Dr Roger Bretherton from the University of Lincoln
Questionnaire on the VIA Institute of Character website
The God Lab: 8 spiritual experiments you can try at homePositive Psychology (Wikipedia)

 

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 5

I open the show by reviewing Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch PH.D. in the introduction. Guy Winch makes the point that whilst almost all of us have at least a basic idea of how to treat physical wounds or injuries, whether minor household mishaps or even more serious ones, such as if we witness an accident and step in to help, when it comes to emotional wounds, many of us don’t even know where to begin and are left floundering and miserable – and we can even make things worse if we’re not careful.

Examining seven types of emotional wound – rejection, loneliness, loss & trauma, guilt, rumination, failure and low self-esteem – Winch provides a step-by-step guide as to how we should apply both immediate and longer-term treatment to salve these psychological injuries, and is careful to point out how to spot whether a problem is so serious that the ‘patient’ is better off seeking professional help, rather than attempting to solve the problem themselves. This, of course, also applies to friends, colleagues and loved ones who may be well-intentioned in wanting to help, but may not be the best person to apply the treatments.

In order to show how the book works, I take an in-depth look at the section on rejection, because it is both the most common form of emotional wound, inflicts the most pain on the patient (and that pain has been proven to be real, visceral pain) and also something that impacted me personally during my own breakdown.

In the main part of the show, I interview Clare Josa whose latest book Ditching Imposter Syndrome is the culmination of her journey through a varied career that has included engineering, market research, yoga and meditation amongst other things. A remarkable woman who earned  FIrst Class degree in Engineering after writing her dissertation in German (!), Clare became one of the first people in Europe to qualify in Six Sigma quality control, and went on to become Head of Market Research at Dyson. It was during her time as an engineer, however, that Clare experienced her own serious bout of imposter syndrome, and overcoming this psychological barrier has latterly become her life’s work.

The author of eight books ranging from novels, through meditation and mindfulness guides to volumes about personal and business success, Clare is a sought-after public speaker, an NLP Trainer and led the EU VAT campaign that managed to break all the rules and actually overturn legislation imposed by the European Union in 2015-16 (which is when Clare and I first met). Clare brings real science to everything she does, debunking myths and making the mysterious simple. Her unique approach manages to combine factors such as ancient wisdom and the latest neuroscience, creativity and ‘getting out of your own way’, so you’re in for an exciting ride covering many of the bases that Inside Your Head was created to examine!

Clare is very much someone who ‘walks the walk’ in her own life, and is a charismatic and enthusiastic guest – I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to her.

As usual, the show ends with another “Relaxation on the Beach” meditation and this time, I introduce the technique of finding calm by ‘noting’ your thoughts and letting them go, rather than becoming embroiled in them.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other everyday Hurts by Guy Winch

Clare Josa’s website

The Ditching Imposter Syndrome website

The Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast

Clare’s books on Amazon

Clare on LinkedIn

Clare on Twitter

Clare on Facebook

Six Sigma (Wikipedia)

NLP (Wikipedia)

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 4

The show opens with me revealing some of my own, recent ‘lived experience’ dealing with imposter syndrome, an incident that took me completely by surprise. I discuss how it manifested itself, the implications it has for my own psychological ‘work’ because it has revealed an aspect of my personality that I had overlooked, and how I have managed to deal with it. This also has implications for my discussions with forthcoming guest Clare Josa, who specialises in helping people overcome imposter syndrome.

The main interview is with Dan Holloway, an extraordinary man who, despite being bipolar, was Creative Thinking World Champion in 2016, 2017 and 2019, World Intelligence Champion in 2000, and European Speed Reading Champion in 2017, 2018, and 2019. He now runs a company called Rogue Interrobang which focuses on teaching people how to be creative, and this forms the main focus of our discussion today.

We look at how the term ‘creativity’ can be interpreted in different ways, ranging from what people often mis-name “talent” (in fact, frequently the result of thousands of hours of practice rather than a ‘gift from God’) to simply having new ideas about all manner of things, whether in traditional creative fields or business or politics.

Dan also talks passionately about something he is intimately familiar with: the way that suffering mental health problems can stigmatise you in the workplace, and that many businesses and organisations that praise themselves for their inclusivity in fact are nothing of the kind, creating barriers for disabled individuals that are impossible to cross.

Working in the self-publishing world, Dan also has strong opinions about the role of ‘gatekeepers’ and how frequently they are encountered, not just in the world of publishing, but elsewhere too.

The show ends with another Relaxation on the Beach meditation, this time using a ‘body scan’ to relax your body and ease any discomfort or tension. This is a great way to focus on the present, moving through the body and noting sensations, whilst clearing your mind of any other distractions and using the breath as your ‘home base’.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Why Creativity Matters

White Rabbit Anomalies

Creativity: Maker Culture for the Mind

Dan holloway’s books on Amazon

 

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 2

The show opens with an introduction to the subject of attachment, which owes its origins to the psychologist John Bowlby who studied the relationship between babies and their mothers, creating the categories of secure, anxious (also known as ambivalent) and avoidant.

This subject has more recently been expanded to cover adult relationships, whether romantic, family or friendships, and I take an in-depth look at some of the guidance contained in the marvellous book Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love by Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A.

In the main interview, I talk to Dr Susie Christensen who is a Psychodynamic counsellor based in Brighton & Hove. Susie made a major career change several years ago, moving across from an academic and teaching background – she originally studied English Literature and obtained her PhD in the relationship between modernist literature, neurology, psychoanalysis and psychology in the period 1860-1939 – into the world of therapy, obtaining her qualifications from the University of Brighton. She has also worked as a bereavement volunteer for CRUSE.

We discuss the differences between psychodynamic counselling and various other types of ‘talk therapies’ and the crucial role of the relationship established between the therapist and the client. We also discuss the concept of ‘transference’. Susie also has some interesting tidbits about the early work of Sigmund Freud, the ‘grandfather’ of psychotherapy.

We spend some time discussing the notion of ‘story’, and how that can work in different ways: how individuals in a relationship can unwittingly develop differing stories about the dynamics of that relationship, which can actually lead to them realising too late that they have very different ‘takes’ on the situation; but also how story can be used in therapy to help the client build a meaningful picture of their past life, particularly if they have ‘blanks’ that may be the result of trauma. I refer to Rick Hanson’s brilliant book Resilient.

Susie and I also look at how the body can influence our thoughts, and the notion that the brain in our heads is not necessarily the only ‘brain’, and how what goes on in our gut and our heart can have a powerful effect on our moods, the mind-body connection, introducing the subject of neuropsychoanalysis.

In the last segment of the show, my Relaxation on the Beach meditation focuses on how we can use meditation to free ourselves of unwanted thoughts and allow them to drift away whilst we return to our ‘home base’ and achieve calm.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Attached by Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller, M.A.

Sigmund Freud (Wikipedia)

Resilient by Rick Hanson

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.